Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Record on Roberts

The Washington Post has a worthwhile editorial on Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts. The editorial shows that at least on the surface, Roberts is not the radical that liberals should fear. Here is one quote:

The D.C. Circuit is among the more collegial federal appellate courts in the nation. Despite a broad political spectrum among its judges, dissents are rare. Its judges generally work far harder than do the justices to achieve consensus. Judge Roberts has been in no sense an outlier. He has neither dissented much nor provoked much dissent, and where he and other judges have disagreed, there have generally not been substantial ideological overtones to that disagreement. According to one analysis of his voting record, he has agreed with Judge David Tatel -- perhaps the court's most liberal member -- 94 percent of the time. This reflects both the relatively apolitical nature of much of the court's caseload and the fact that Judge Roberts -- and, for that matter, Judge Tatel -- is appropriately sublimating his political views to apply the law.

The Post does have some concerns over his views concerning interstate commerce, but even there, they give him some leeway:

There is really only one opinion Judge Roberts has written that potentially signals anything of serious concern, and that is the first one he wrote while on the court. The opinion is troubling because it suggests a too-narrow view of Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce -- the constitutional backbone of the modern regulatory state. Judge Roberts questioned whether the commerce clause of the Constitution is broad enough to permit the federal government to protect an endangered species that lives within a single state. But it would be a mistake to read too much into this opinion. Because of the procedural position of the case, Judge Roberts merely sketched his concerns and was careful not to pass judgment on the merits of the matter. The decision may be suggestive, but it hardly commits him to a particular philosophy as a justice in this important area.

Of course, the nomination hearings should shed some light on Roberts judicial philosophy. It's my hope that Roberts is more a conservative in the mold of Kennedy or O' Connor and not another Scalia or Thomas. The signs, at least at this point, point to the former and not the latter.


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